By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
I remember when I first heard the phrase, “put on Christ”. It was in reference to putting on the whole armor of God found in Ephesians. The next time I heard the phrase “put on Christ” was during the invitation where nonbelievers are encouraged to put on Christ in baptism. In both instances, there is a reminder that knowing is not the same as doing. We must be willing to take action based on the beliefs that we espouse to hold true.
Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV): Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
You will know when someone has put on Christ, there is a dramatic transformation that takes place. The apostle Paul encourages Christians to live a life of patience, kindness and meekness to show they are God’s chosen people. Paul also lists the need to show compassion for others, bearing with one another and forgiving each other. You may have noticed that these attributes are not common in everyday life. As God’s chosen people, we are to live a life that is aligned with His values.
Colossians 3:5-10 (ESV): Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
The mistake we sometimes make is we attempt to put on Christ without putting to death our old selves. You will notice in the above passages that Paul starts with the need to put to death your old self before instructing us to put on Christ. The reason is clear; before we put on Christ in baptism, we are walking with the world and participating in feelings of anger, wrath, malice, and slander. Peace and joy are found in the salvation of Jesus Christ, and the only way to be saved is to put on Christ in baptism. Even if we believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is the Son of God, we are not saved until we “put to death” our old selves. It is only by putting to death your old self that you have the ability to put on your new self. Similar to the need for us to put on the armor of God for protection. We cannot put on the armor God while wearing the armor of the world. So, I ask you, have you put on Christ… and do your actions demonstrate the same?